CPS wants to convert Ames Middle School to a marine academy

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On Jan. 16, parents, students and representatives from the Logan Square Neighborhood Association (LSNA) continued protests against CPS plans to convert Ames Middle School into Marine Math and Science Academy at a press conference held at the school.

The CPS Board of Education voted in December to make the long rumored change first officially proposed by Mayor Emanuel in October. The LSNA contends that the board decision doesn’t reflect the will of parents, students or area residents.

“Why are you trying to fix something that’s not broken?” asked Jasmine Marchan, a student at Ames. “Why are you making decisions for us? No one has come to ask us – students, parents and the community – how we feel.”

City Commissioner Edwin Reyes also spoke at the press conference.

“As a proud U.S. Air Force veteran I support the military,” he said. “However, I don’t support the military coming to Ames. It is obvious that the parents, the students and the community have spoken against the military taking over Ames school.”

In an interview after the event Reyes expressed frustration at the CPS decision.  “There are 49 schools that have been shut [down] throughout the city. Why don’t they utilize one of those schools?  How can you impose something on a community?”

After the December board vote, LSNA organizers began gathering signatures and successfully placed a referendum on the upcoming March 18 primary election ballot asking voters whether Ames should be maintained as a community school.  The vote is non-binding but the group hopes that CPS and the Board of Education will be persuaded based on results to change the decision.

In the weeks leading up to the election, organizers plan to canvass nearby precincts, registering residents to vote, explaining the ballot measure and alerting parents and residents of changes creeping into plans for the school conversion.

Parents, for example, had initially been told that current Ames students would be able to continue on at the military school, but were informed this month in a letter from Principal Gerald Byers that open enrollment would be limited to “approximately 200 students for the next school year.”

There are approximately 600 students currently enrolled at Ames.  In October, the mayor’s office told the Chicago Sun-Times that it hopes to enroll over 1300 in the Marine Academy.

Extra contacted CPS with questions regarding open enrollment and whether the ballot memorandum could prompt the education board to reconsider its vote but those inquires went unanswered.

Upcoming canvassing events will begin at 10 a.m. on Saturdays at Ames Middle School.  Interested community members can contact the LSNA at 773-534-4971 or email Maria Trejo at mtrejo@lsna.net.

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